I don’t have anything all that earth shattering to say about the Bin Laden murder itself, but I have found the reaction to the news by both the media and the public (at least through Facebook and Twitter) to be quite interesting.
Obviously, after 9/11, Osama bin Laden became the face behind the tragedy and the image we as America focused our anger on (for good reason). The man, the image, and his action easily changed the course of US history. Without 9/11, we certainly never go into Afghanistan and probably never revisit Iraq. 9/11 obviously changed the course of our foreign policy and easily affected our domestic culture as well (today’s economy/state of mind/cultural zeitgeist, etc)
But whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden? After watching a few different news stations, I heard them all say something to the effect of “everyone will remember where they were today” and I’m not sure why. Though Osama was the architect of the most devastating attack on American soil, there hasn’t really been any relevant Al Queda attack since. And from everything we know, he was essentially marginalized as a leader while hiding out, while other sects gained power. Not to mention, Osama was hardly the leader of an army, he headed a group that, more or less, got lucky on September 11th, 2001. Had hijacking protocol been different (and it changed by that afternoon), we’d all remember that day much differently. He never posed a Soviet/German like threat against America, even if we were led to believe otherwise.
In a time when we, as a public, need good news, I suppose this can pass for some. After all, this death will bring some kind of closure for everyone who lost a love one during 9/11, even if it’s bittersweet. But the media is making this moment bigger than it really is. We aren’t leaving Afghanistan tomorrow. Iraq is still going to be a shit hole. Our airports won’t be free and easy by the end of the week. This won’t fix the economy. The black cloud over America isn’t dissipating. And, most of all, terrorism isn’t going away any time soon. This doesn’t compare to Hitler killing himself at the end of World War 2. His action, unfortunately, remains and our reaction to his action will not erase or change.
So, yes, this is a historical moment of some sort and if it provides a boost in morale, then it’s a good thing. (I certainly don’t weep for Osama Bin Laden, even if I do find the celebration of death to be a little odd). But I’d love for someone to explain why this is a huge deal beyond symbolic measures.
I’d like to be convinced otherwise. What are people celebrating exactly beyond chasing a ghost? I don't write this post from the point of view of a contrarian, I actually would just love to hear some thoughts because my gut reaction to the news was, it seems, much different from most.